Heralds of spring: next-generation hairsprings for watches
Cutting-edge materials and designs are taking watchingmaking's most complex mechanism to the next level.
01 Tag Heuer
The brainchild of mathematicians, physicists, chemists and engineers at the Tag Heuer Institute, the Swiss watchmaker’s Isograph carbon-composite hairspring is the latest innovation in the field of watchmaking materials. According to Tag Heuer, the Isograph hairspring – constructed atomically from hydrogen and ethylene gas – is entirely antimagnetic and gravity- and shock-proof. Together, these properties make the Isograph hairspring more accurate at timekeeping than those made of metal, and more durable than silicon ones. This year, the brand introduces its carbon hairspring in the Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph and the Autavia collection.
Tag Heuer Autavia
02 Swatch Group and Audemars Piguet
Last year, Swiss watchmakers Audemars Piguet and the Swatch Group vowed to beat magnetism, friction, shock and temperature changes (basically, the banes of all horologers) by jointly developing a new watchmaking material. The result: Nivachron – a titanium-based alloy for hairsprings that significantly reduces magnetic effects, on top of being resistant to age and heat differentials. This year, the Swatch Group debuted the Nivachron hairspring in Swatch’s Flymagic series of watches. These timepieces feature a skeletonised dial that offers a view of an updated reversed Sistem51 automatic movement with a seconds hand that interestingly runs counter-clockwise.
Unveiled as a proof of concept in 2017, the Zenith Defy Lab watch housed the Oscillator – a monocoque silicon component that combined more than 30 individual parts (hairspring, balance wheel, lever, etc). Lighter than titanium, aluminium and carbon fibre, and almost impervious to temperature fluctuations, gravity and magnetism, this invention captured the imagination of the watchmaking world for its ingenuity in technical watchmaking. This year, Zenith made further upgrades to the Defy Lab and took it from prototype to commercial viability by introducing the Defy Inventor. Also harbouring the Oscillator, this new watch boasts a higher frequency and more efficient energy transfer.